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Exeter's thrashing of Bristol came after 'special' request

By PA
Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Exeter head coach Ali Hepher admitted he could not be happier with his players after they produced the “special performance” he was looking for in their 50-14 demolition of Bristol.

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Wings Olly Woodburn and Jack Nowell both scored twice in the seven-try mauling at Ashton Gate with Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ruben Van Heerden and Richard Capstick also on the scoresheet as Exeter stormed to the top of the Premiership.

Toby Fricker and Will Capon scored converted tries in reply for Bristol but the Bears were comprehensively beaten in the end by a dominant Exeter team.

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Hepher said: “I asked the boys for a special performance and I knew they were mentally right and I couldn’t be more pleased with the whole 23 of them.

“This season, we’ve built up good leads but have let sides back into it but there was none of that tonight as we kept working all the time.

“Big swings often take place around the half-time interval so we dug in very well and scrapped in the final five minutes of that first half to keep our line intact.

“In our game against Harlequins we switched off and became sloppy but we managed to handle really well tonight in the conditions and can get a lot better than that.”

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Hepher paid tribute to two-try Woodburn and man of the match Jonny Gray.

He said: “Olly is working really hard and is in the best condition I have ever seen him. It is a lesson to everyone that if you get yourself into really good nick, there is no limit to what you can achieve.

“Jonny is a fantastic worker and we missed a bit of that last week in our defeat at Sale. He may not be the fastest but he reads the game really well and gets in some good positions close to the ball.”

It was a miserable night for Bristol before a home crowd of over 19,000 as it saw them equal the most points they have conceded in a Premiership match since 1997, when they lost 50-8 at Newcastle when their head coach Pat Lam was in the Falcons line-up.

Bristol cause against the Chiefs was not helped by losing Ellis Genge and Piers O’Conor to the sin-bin in either half.

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Lam said: “We had our chances but we didn’t take them and it’s very difficult to win a match when you play 20 minutes with 14 men.

“It was just one of those nights, which was far from ideal, before a large home crowd. We just have to take it on the chin.

“It was a relentless effort from them in the second half and it took too much energy to keep them out.

“We dropped high balls and conceded a lot of penalties but we missed good chances when the score was 17-7 as we didn’t fire enough shots.”

Bristol captain Joe Joyce said: “I’m not sure what happened as it’s hard to believe.

“Against Exeter it’s normally a one-score game and the hardest thing is stopping them even though we know what’s coming.

“We had an advantage in the scrums and mauls but we still conceded 50 points.”

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